"I sleep in the alcove bed in the cottage kitchen. No servant brings my clothes in the morning, or brushes my hair, but I would not go back to that pampering. I feel stronger every day now. I can fetch water from the well and help with washing clothes and sweeping floors. This morning I saw hares dancing, as they always do in the spring, and had a moment of wonderful happiness."
—Beatrice Townhill[3]

Beatrice Valjean (née Townhill; born June 12, 1526) was a lady-in-waiting to three of King Henry VIII's wives, namely Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. She was adopted by Elinor Valjean and Eva De Puebla, after the death of her parents. She later married Will Valjean.


Early life

Beatrice was born on June 12, 1526.[2] According to her caretaker, Agnes, Beatrice's parents met at a joust and probably married soon after that. Her mother cam from the wealthy Bedingfield family. She grew up near Greenwich Palace in a house that her father rented from his in-laws.

1536 – 1548

In 1536, Beatrice became friends with Eva De Puebla and Elinor Valjean, who rented a house nearby. On her tenth birthday, Beatrice's father, a royal huntsman, introduced her to King Henry VIII and Queen Jane Seymour. Her best friend, Catherine Carey gives her a diary for her birthday. Beatrice tells her new friends about it, which prompts Eva and Elinor to lend their diaries to her. She learns about Henry's first queens, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, through them.

The following year, Queen Jane passes away, after giving birth to Edward. In February 1539, Beatrice's parents died of smallpox. Beatrice was adopted by Eva and Elinor, and eventually got a job in the court's kitchens with Will Valjean. Meanwhile, Henry marries Anne of Cleves, and Beatrice briefly works as her lady-in-waiting. After Henry divorces Anne, Beatrice begins to work for his new wife, Catherine Howard.

Beatrice and Will married on Easter day in 1542, after Catherine was executed for adultery. Henry marries his last wife, Catherine Parr, and Beatrice returns to court to be her lady-in-waiting. On March 13, 1544, Beatrice gave birth to a daughter, Joanna "Jo". After Henry's death in 1547, Beatrice continues working for Catherine and moves to Chelsea. Beatrice gave birth to her second child, Rodrigo on October 9, 1547. She stayed with Catherine, until her death in August 1548.

Personality and traits

Beatrice had a love of learning, though she sometimes grew tired of lessons when she was younger. She enjoyed attending Catherine Parr's lessons. Beatrice was taught French and Latin at a young age, and later learned Spanish from her friend, Eva. After being scarred by smallpox, Beatrice felt that she was ugly, but slowly gained back her confidence. She was also kind and compassionate.

Family tree

The Valjean-Freeman Family Tree
(including De Puebla and Townhill relatives)
Rodrigo De Puebla
(d. 1509)
Bianca De Puebla
Gonsalvo De Puebla
Mr. De Puebla
(d. 1498)
Anna De Puebla
Miguel De Puebla
Eva De Puebla
(b. 1486)
Michel Valjean
(d. 1528)
Mr. Townhill
(d. 1539)
Mrs. Townhill
(d. 1539)
Rosanna Valjean
(b. 1510)
Diego Luiz
de Frontera
Elinor Valjean
(b. 1514)
Tom Freeman
Daniel Valjean
(b. 1518)
William Valjean
(b. 1521)
Beatrice Townhill
(b. 1526)
John de Frontera
(b. 1530)
Michael Freeman
(b. 1532)
Maria Freeman
Isabella Freeman
(b. 1537)
Joanna Valjean
(b. 1544)
Rodrigo Valjean
(b. 1547)

Behind the scenes